A-League fans, don’t give the media an excuse

Adrian Musolino Columnist

By Adrian Musolino, Adrian Musolino is a Roar Expert

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    Remember this guy? Get him into the Socceroos setup. AAP Image/Joe Castro

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    It’s as inevitable as the sun rising in the morning; the mainstream media jumping on fan indiscretions at A-League matches and running the now customary soccer fan thuggery stories.

    Those headlines appeared in the usual media outlets – Herald Sun, 3AW, etc – following the Melbourne derby in which 170 seats were wrecked by Melbourne Heart and Victory fans in addition to the throwing of banned flares.

    The Herald Sun headline screamed: “Police slam fans after soccer derby leaves trail of destruction” – one of countless articles to appear after similar incidents over the years.

    Whether the negative headlines were justified is up for debate. While on the one hand the idiotic behaviour of a small few continues to cast a shadow over a whole supporter base, the proportion of negative coverage the A-League gets over other codes seems to be higher (drunken behaviour at cricket, for example, is rarely reported as intently).

    It’s an easy target given the established stereotypes of ‘soccer hooligans’ and perhaps there is an element of knocking the other football code by media outlets with vested interest in its winter alternative.

    Take, for example, 3AW presenter Tom Elliot, who justified the violence like this: “The fact is, soccer is a dull, boring game. It is the only thing that explains why such bad behaviour doesn’t happen at AFL or NRL matches.”

    But this victimisation should in no way excuse nor encourage the behaviour of some A-League active supporters. It’s their actions that inspire and provide an excuse for the aforementioned media outlets to run the same old headlines.

    Without the flares and bottle and chair throwing, there would be no story.

    So sure, the media may overplay what’s going on in the stands. But deprive them of the excuse and the headlines would inevitably disappear or the media become more desperate to seek a negative A-League story.

    Changing perceptions can only start with the A-League supporters who seem to be inspired by European ‘ultra’ tactics.

    The Melbourne and Sydney derbies are now the A-League’s non-finals showpiece events, producing atmosphere the like of which is rare in Australia and is the equivalent of Europe’s best leagues.

    But because of the chair and flare throwing antics, the game wastes the opportunity for those events to help the A-League penetrate into the Australian mainstream consciousness.

    So while on the one hand huge advances are being made – few leagues around the world can boast 40,000-plus crowds – the fans involved in poor behaviour simply assist the media to kick the game hard.

    So, to the active supporters out there, behave. Sing, dance, chant, cheer, make banners, boo the opposition and so forth. This sort of atmosphere is what differentiates football from other codes and will help attract new fans and keep them coming, therefore helping the A-League to grow in stature.

    But don’t resort to the flares, violence, chair throwing, racist chants and so forth. They don’t add anything to the fan experience and only fuel the negative headlines.

    Maybe then the media will back off and stop sending journalists and photographers to cover any crowd troubles, which they do, and stadium security will ease off.

    The choice is yours. If you’re really sick of the media victimization, then leave the chairs where they belong.

    Adrian Musolino
    Adrian Musolino

    Adrian Musolino is editor of V8X Magazine, and has written as an expert on The Roar since 2008, cementing himself as a key writer who can see the big picture in sport. He freelances on other forms of motorsport, football, cycling and more.

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    The Crowd Says (107)

    • February 5th 2013 @ 3:14am
      AVictory said | February 5th 2013 @ 3:14am | ! Report

      The reports today that soccer is violent, soccer is boring, that your children are at risk is rubbish and everyone knows it. There is nothing we can do about that except laugh at their pettiness and move on.

      I don’t believe that events such as these waste the A-Leagues opportunities to fully penetrate as being mainstream.

      Despite the lack of media coverage for the A-League, it has continued to prosper and thrive in spite of it. These headlines will do no lasting damage to the code, all it will do is make the close minded right wing reinforce their stereotypical viewpoint on soccer games, meanwhile those that went to the match on Saturday absolutely loved it and had some of the best times of their lives, 99% of them will be back for more and will bring their friends. In 3 days time all will be forgotten

      Out of the 42000 crowd, 41980 were well behaved, it was only the behaviour of 20 brainless 15 year old heart fans that deliberately set out to damage the stadium so that Victory will pay the costs to fix it, the blame can’t be on us, it has to be on them and hopefully the morons are caught, made to pay for the repairs and are banned. On top of that I would hope for a heavy police presence in the Yarraside bay in the future, these spoiled little brats deserve it.

      • February 5th 2013 @ 10:30am
        Ian said | February 5th 2013 @ 10:30am | ! Report

        didn’t melbourne victory fans also break seats and cause damage to etihad stadium?

        no i’m not a heart supporter but what’s with the rewriting of history to say heart caused all the damage? both sets of melbourne fans destroyed property.

        • February 5th 2013 @ 3:35pm
          AVictory said | February 5th 2013 @ 3:35pm | ! Report

          Victory fans have been breaking seats since the A-League begun and average about ~25 per game.

          Difference is though is that they don’t deliberately plan to destroy seats, what the Heart fans have done is unprecedented.

          • February 5th 2013 @ 3:52pm
            AVictory said | February 5th 2013 @ 3:52pm | ! Report

            Just to clarify, by breaking 25 seats a game I don’t mean ripping them out, I’m talking spring damage, most if not all seats by Victory fans are damaged from this.

            The seats in the away bay were ripped out and snapped and this is what is causing all the stir.

            • Roar Guru

              February 6th 2013 @ 1:01am
              Cameron Kellett said | February 6th 2013 @ 1:01am | ! Report

              Spring damage?

              If I follow correctly, you are referring to how they are designed to be seated on and spring back up when hopping off?

              If Victory fans are breaking 25 seats per game due to ‘spring damage’ and as you say “Victory fans have been breaking seats since the A-League begun and average about ~25 per game.”

              This would equate to 2,550 seats!

              Well with what is thought to be within the 120 to 170 broken in the derby which has resulted in tens of thousands of dollars worth of what will be required for restoration.

              This average you have presented, over the course of 102 Victory games is more cause for concern as this surely mustn’t be good for spectator safety!

              Really AVictory, I think you need to think about what you wrote…

              Same ‘spring seating’ is used in most sporting venues I know, so why is it so many are broken at victory games?
              Be a good football citizen and take this up with the FFA, or channel 7 or the stadiums. This is worse than vandalism!

              • Roar Guru

                February 6th 2013 @ 1:05am
                Cameron Kellett said | February 6th 2013 @ 1:05am | ! Report

                By the way that statistic didn’t include pre season or neutral Venue 😉

                So if you know the ‘real’ number then please let me know!

              • February 6th 2013 @ 1:33am
                AVictory said | February 6th 2013 @ 1:33am | ! Report

                It’s the wear and tear of hosting matches.

                There is standing room, people stand on the seats to see over others, a goal is scored and they get excited. The club cops a small bill to fix the damage and life goes on.

                What happened last Saturday from a minority of the Heart fans was deliberate destruction of property.

                I don’t understand your massive concern over the welfare of seats, there are much more important things to worry about in the world mate.

              • Roar Guru

                February 6th 2013 @ 2:31am
                Cameron Kellett said | February 6th 2013 @ 2:31am | ! Report

                Sorry, I thought what I wrote clearly reeked of sarcasm :D. I don’t care about the “wear and tear” of seats, just in my experience of attending matches at Suncorp Stadium, who I deem fairly strict, I tend to see no damage caused at all during a match of including Broncos, Reds and Roar, but in saying that I don’t wander aimlessly searching for how many seats are broken on all levels.

              • February 6th 2013 @ 8:24am
                Anon said | February 6th 2013 @ 8:24am | ! Report

                AVictory –
                I’ve attended football at Docklands stadium since if first started hosting AFL matches and I don’t observe people standing on seats other than momentarily to climb into another row if need be to get in or out.

                What is it you’re talking about – “There is standing room, people stand on the seats to see over others, a goal is scored and they get excited.”

                Do these same people stand on the couch at home? stand on seats on the trains?

                ‘wear and tear’ is one thing – but, what you describe is outside of ‘wear and tear’. If people want to stand then don’t put the seats down. They aren’t design for been stood on or bounced upon.

    • February 5th 2013 @ 3:15am
      AVictory said | February 5th 2013 @ 3:15am | ! Report

      Dear media and people that use the term “football hooligans”.

      This is what football hooligans look like.

      This is what the perpetrators that deliberately broke chairs look like

      Don’t get the two confused and throw the term around loosely, I hope that clears everything up, cheers!

      • February 5th 2013 @ 6:28am
        Stevo said | February 5th 2013 @ 6:28am | ! Report

        Arrest them ALL Constable Plod!

      • February 5th 2013 @ 1:04pm
        Brick Tamlin of the Pants Party said | February 5th 2013 @ 1:04pm | ! Report

        Why is it always the chairs that suffer.

    • Roar Guru

      February 5th 2013 @ 4:58am
      NUFCMVFC said | February 5th 2013 @ 4:58am | ! Report

      will re-post a comment from another article

      “Media naturally relies on an element of embelishment in all things to sell papers, but I find it rather odd we have this ‘hooliganism’ hysteria building up when there don’t seem to have been any fights from what I can gather. I have noticed that as par the course of larger crowds there is a bit more prankish behaviour. The deliberate destruction of seats so the oppposition team pays the bill is really immature and says something about their ages”

      Frankly, I think the people who are likely to buy into it aren’t all that likely to come to a game anyway, whereas the 41k who were there know there weren’t really any issues and will come back again, and even encourage others to do so via word of mouth. Truth be told, the Melbourne derby is probably the tamest of MVFC’s rivalries and has the least underlying ‘feeling’, it is enjoyable mostly as a spectacle, eg being ni a full AAMI park. For this reason fans of both sides were able to pour out of the stadium, share the same trains and buses pre and post game and in my personal experience there wan’t any hint of animosity at all fwiw, and I’m sure that’s the case for the vast majority of most fans who have attended. I have heard of immature behaviour with seats etc and a few flares being lit but I haven’t heard of any actual fights or anything along those lines

      • Roar Guru

        February 5th 2013 @ 8:12am
        TomC said | February 5th 2013 @ 8:12am | ! Report

        ‘Frankly, I think the people who are likely to buy into it aren’t all that likely to come to a game anyway’

        I don’t know about that. I think that parents would be a lot more inclined to take their kids without the flares, the damage and the headlines.

        • Roar Guru

          February 5th 2013 @ 8:47am
          Fussball ist unser leben said | February 5th 2013 @ 8:47am | ! Report

          Tom C – there were only 9k vacant seats.

          As long as the 41k are happy, that’s all that matters.

          • February 5th 2013 @ 9:18am
            Australian Rules said | February 5th 2013 @ 9:18am | ! Report

            But it’s looks like they *weren’t* happy.

            • Roar Guru

              February 5th 2013 @ 10:05am
              Fussball ist unser leben said | February 5th 2013 @ 10:05am | ! Report

              I wasn’t happy in Nov-97 when the final whistle blew in the WCQ against Iran .. but, I keep coming back for more.

          • Roar Guru

            February 5th 2013 @ 1:38pm
            TomC said | February 5th 2013 @ 1:38pm | ! Report

            When we get 41k for a game against Wellington, Fuss, then I might agree with you.

            • February 5th 2013 @ 5:43pm
              Brick Tamlin of the Pants Party said | February 5th 2013 @ 5:43pm | ! Report

              There is only one thing that scares football fans worse than crazed hooligans,and thats going to watch Wellington.

    • February 5th 2013 @ 6:39am
      Stevo said | February 5th 2013 @ 6:39am | ! Report

      The Derby attracts irregulars to the game. Those few that are in it to display their Euro credentials and hard edge supporting. These are actually sad individuals, mostly likely young and brainless who can’t think beyond the moment about what they are doing. The good thing is that apart from this incident the regular Heart active supporters, week to week, are loud, passionate and strong and they give the players on the field a real lift. Just like the bother that MV had in earlier seasons with crowd and policing, we have to anticipate and deal with this minority that can give the other 99.9% of fans and our sport a bad image. It’s prophetic that at a recent Heart fan forum Peter Sidwell mentioned that the media would focus on extracting the negatives and causing division as a way of increasing readership. Bingo.

      • February 5th 2013 @ 11:15am
        Brick Tamlin of the Pants Party said | February 5th 2013 @ 11:15am | ! Report

        Ah the Derby specials,it might be an idea for only Heart members to be given tickets the away active section in the future.

    • February 5th 2013 @ 7:31am
      Roger said | February 5th 2013 @ 7:31am | ! Report

      Actually, I have to say, the article in the age was actually a fairly measured article on it. The writer of the article took pains to ensure that every line regarding the vandalism was followed up by a line saying “very small minority”, “the very large majority were well behaved” and words to that effect.

      I can’t speak for the other articles, as I haven’t read them.

      • February 5th 2013 @ 8:07am
        Kasey said | February 5th 2013 @ 8:07am | ! Report

        I just don’t know where to start with this. I must have just bypassed the age of young adulthood where my brain hadn’t developed the appropriate connections to understand consequence of actions taken.

        Sure #passioisnotacrime, but last time I checked, #propertydamagestillisacrime. There has to be something in the way football fans group themselves together that causes younger people to get an attack of the ‘brave in packs’.

        There is no way there are this many antisocial people in even a large city like Melbourne.

        I just go for the game and the mateship so I’m at a loss as to what if anything can even be done here. Surely in a stadium as advanced as Docklands there is CCTV footage? If there is, I think its time to start putting some individual faces on the front pages of the Age and the Hun. Just on the Hun:

        I do love how in this instance they went with “SOCCER’S SHAME” as if it is the fault of all football fans. Just for comparisons sake, was it RUGBY LEAGUE’S SHAME when Canterbury fans ‘rioted’ after losing the most recent NRL GF? Was it “ FOOTY’S shame” when Collingwood fans went feral and fought not only each other but stadium security in this clip?:

        • February 5th 2013 @ 10:37am
          Roger said | February 5th 2013 @ 10:37am | ! Report

          Kasey, you replied to my comment, but I don’t think you were necessarily responding to it?

          Anyway, I agree with you. I don’t get this sort of behaviour personally – at the football or anywhere else. And I also don’t get the media grab headlines when it comes to vandalism at football, especially when it happens in other sporting codes too.

          Having said that, I do think that Cricket also has its fair share of negative articles about crowd behaviour. Some other sports don’t though.

          • February 5th 2013 @ 11:12am
            Kasey said | February 5th 2013 @ 11:12am | ! Report

            You are right Roger my comment was an early morning post before this topic had generated many replies, so I just blazed away, sorry for any confusion. The problem we as football fans face that other sports don’t is the stereotype of the English Soccer Hooligan being such a well known caricature that it is far easier to paint football fans in a negative light with just a few well placed headline grabs. Sub-Editing for dummies, Soccer + Shame is an alliteration, The public are already pre-disposed to hear about Hooligans..in fact they half expect it after 30 years of calling a single flare accompanied by chanting at an NSL game a ‘riot’.

        • February 5th 2013 @ 11:49am
          Brick Tamlin of the Pants Party said | February 5th 2013 @ 11:49am | ! Report

          I just wish they would come up with a new headline,SOCCERS SHAME has been done to death.How about CHAIRS GET BEAT IN DERBY HEAT!!

          • February 5th 2013 @ 12:35pm
            Brick Tamlin of the Pants Party said | February 5th 2013 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

            Correction SEATS GET BEAT IN DERBY HEAT!

            • Roar Guru

              February 5th 2013 @ 5:11pm
              langou said | February 5th 2013 @ 5:11pm | ! Report

              Etihad losing seats quicker than the Labor party

              • February 5th 2013 @ 10:41pm
                Roger said | February 5th 2013 @ 10:41pm | ! Report


    • February 5th 2013 @ 7:46am
      Savvas Tzionis said | February 5th 2013 @ 7:46am | ! Report

      So that’s why they replaced Hinch with John Elliott’s son?

      Hinch being a New Zealand born person, and an affinity (I assume) with another sport other than Australian Rules, would never say those words.

      • February 5th 2013 @ 10:58am
        me, I like football said | February 5th 2013 @ 10:58am | ! Report

        Yeah, that’s it.

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